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House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has asked a wonderful, very sensitive question.

The Conservatives always talk about one thing and then do another. If they were really concerned about helping immigrants and refugees integrate into our communities in this wonderful country and to help our economy, they would be putting procedures in place to do just that. They would be helping the Immigration and Refugee Board to process them faster so we could get them into our system and become productive citizens. However, the way the Conservatives have this set up it will take five years.

My colleague is absolutely right. The people that are coming here may want to go to university or college to upgrade their education so they can integrate into our society and get the jobs that will help them and their families. Certainly that does not seem to be where the Conservatives want to go on this.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we heard just moments ago the question from the Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage in which he referred to this bill as assisting refugees in “enjoying their Canadian experience”. I wonder, how is jailing refugees--men, women and children--in Canada for a year somehow an enjoyable Canadian experience?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I talked about this earlier in the House and I will repeat it. I am the father of two children and I cannot imagine my children being subjected to this sort of Draconian measure that is being brought in by the Conservatives.

Children and their parents are persecuted in the countries from which they come. They are persecuted by the smugglers on their journey to a safe country. And the Conservative government wants to put in place a Draconian law that would detain these young people for over a year.

The Conservatives are redefining compassion. Their definition of compassion is to put children in detention centres in this country.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments about the number of groups that are opposed to this measure. What our colleague fails to understand is that this was a clear part of our last campaign. It was one of our platform measures. It had been discussed prior to the House rising. Canadians knew what they were voting for when they supported this measure.

I would like to ask my colleague, why is he not willing to accept a strong mandate for this reasonable and fair approach that deals with this? Would he actually want those who have been sitting in the queue for years to take a back seat to those who are now jumping the queue by getting on boats that are operated by illegal smugglers?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is a consistent way the Conservatives ask questions. They keep reinforcing that. My colleague said that we have already talked about queue jumping. When a person is being persecuted in a country where, for example, there is a war going on, there is no queue. The person gets on a plane or some other mode of transport and goes to whichever country will provide a safe haven. There are no queues. We should get that straight.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in support of Bill C-4, a bill which would prevent human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system.

Human smuggling is a nefarious industry, one that exists around the world. Unfortunately, thousands of people die each year because of illegal migration and the smugglers who facilitate this migration.

Parliament needs to take action to put an end to the activities of human smugglers who have chosen Canada as a destination for their business, which is the dreadful exploitation of human beings.

Every year thousands of people around the world die in illegal smuggling operations organized by human smugglers. These people are not humanitarians. They do not assist people to become bona fide refugees and protect them from persecution. They are profiteers.

In the particular context with which we are dealing, namely those smuggling syndicates that are targeting Canada and which managed to bring two large shiploads of illegal migrants to our west coast in the past two years, our intelligence agencies and security and police partners in Southeast Asia all told us that these syndicates of human smugglers are essentially the gunrunners, the smugglers who helped to fuel the civil war in Sri Lanka by illicitly bringing contraband arms, bombs and guns into a theatre of conflict leading to the death of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Since the end of the hostilities in Sri Lanka, these smuggling syndicates have been looking for a new business model, and instead of moving guns and bombs, they have switched to moving people for a very high price.

We know that those who have enlisted these smuggling syndicates to try to come illegally to Canada in violation of our immigration laws, in violation of our marine laws, in violation of international law, in violation of every principle of safe migration, have been willing to commit to pay up to $50,000 to the illegal smuggling syndicates. Typically, they pay about 10% of the fixed price as a down payment. A typical down payment to the smuggling syndicate is in the range of $5,000. The balance is typically payable over the course of time after arrival in Canada and very often through coerced participation in criminal activity.

As I mentioned, every year around the world thousands of people die in smuggling operations, whether they were migrants who suffocated in shipping containers crossing the English Channel or whether they were people who paid smugglers to go to Australia in dangerous shipping boats that crashed up against the shore.

We must act to send a very clear message that Canada is the most open developed country in the world to immigration, to newcomers, to refugees who need our protection and seek new opportunities. In order to maintain that remarkable openness, which by the way represents in Canada the highest level of immigration per capita in the developed world wherein we add .8% of our population per year through legal immigrants, and the highest level of refugee resettlement in the developed world through the 20% increase in our targets for refugee resettlement, by next year we will be accepting some 14,000 resettled refugees. Last year we welcomed 280,000 new permanent residents and we are increasing our program for refugee resettlement.

In order to maintain that generosity, that openness, and the public support which is necessary to maintain that attitude of openness, we must demonstrate to Canadians that our system is characterized by fairness and the rule of law.

One of the reasons that Canadians are so understandably upset when they see large scale smuggling operations is that it violates their sense of fairness and their belief that our immigration system is characterized by the application of fair rules.

Millions of people have come to Canada through our fair and generous immigration or refugee resettlement programs. In my experience they are those who most profoundly resent those who would pay illegal criminal networks to be smuggled to Canada illegally, avoiding the legal system.

My friend opposite and others have said that there is no so-called queue for refugees. First, I do not know how he knows that all or most of those who pay smuggling syndicates are refugees. We constantly hear from the critics that when we talk about our efforts to stop smugglers from targeting Canada we are talking about refugees. How do they know that? We know that many of the people in the two vessels who came to Canada most recently were coming from India transiting through Thailand, both democracies, both with the rule of law and protection for human rights. Perhaps colleagues opposite did not see the CBC report from Chennai in Tamil Nadu in India. Tamil Nadu is a region of southeastern India where tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Sri Lankan Tamils migrated during the conflict in Sri Lanka, where they sought temporary protection or new opportunities.

The CBC interviewed a group of several young Sri Lankan Tamil migrants in Tamil Nadu, India who said they had made down payments of up to $5,000 to these syndicates to be transported to Canada. They were not in a war zone. They were not subject to persecution. They said they wanted to come to Canada because they had heard about our “free monthly salaries”. We have to be very careful. We cannot and should not prejudge newly arrived migrants as to their prospective refugee claims. Some may be refugees; some may not. Many may just be seeking economic opportunity and heard that Canada is a soft target and therefore they are willing to pay smuggling syndicates.

What this bill seeks to do is maintain Canada's commitment to our domestic and international legal obligations with respect to refugee protection and to respect our humanitarian obligation to protect bona fide refugees fleeing persecution while at the same time changing the business model of the criminal smuggling syndicates. That is the objective of this bill.

We seek, first, to increase in the bill penalties for smugglers so that there will be a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years for those who are found to participate in a human smuggling event which involves at least 50 individuals or in which there are exacerbating circumstances such as loss of life. We also massively increase the monetary fines for the owners of ships involved in these voyages. It is typically ships, but I should point out that the bill could address non-marine human smuggling events which have occurred in Canada.

That is an important message, but let us be realistic. I have studied this issue very closely. In fact, just last month I was in New Zealand and Bangkok, Thailand meeting with international partners and our own security agencies, as well as international police forces. I was trying to get a better understanding of the nature of these smuggling enterprises. It is very clear that we cannot impose Canadian law in terms of these sanctions on smugglers who operate overseas. The kingpins of these syndicates very rarely come to Canada. They are most typically jumping around between transit countries in Southeast Asia beyond our legal reach.

Having said that, there is an important dimension of our fight against human smuggling which is not formally in the legislation. It is an operational dimension whereby our government, through the good leadership of my colleague, the hon. Minister of Public Safety and the security and police agencies under his ministry, have dispatched additional resources for investigation and co-operation with the governments, police and intelligence agencies in the transit countries. Thanks to the additional resources that we have put into the region, we have managed successfully to prevent any of the planned voyages that were to target Canada. We know, without getting into operational or confidential details, that several voyages were planned for Canada that have been successfully interrupted, thanks in part to the co-operation of Canadian security forces in the region.

Having said that, let us be clear. In any black market there will always be someone willing to provide the contraband good or service if there is sufficient demand at a sufficiently high price point, because we are talking about profiteers. If they are able to get commitments of up to $50,000 to come to Canada, they will continue to try to find the vessels and put together the complex logistics to bring people from Southeast Asia to Canada. Therefore, in this legislation we must reduce the price point that people are willing to pay to be illegally smuggled to Canada through these criminal syndicates. That is the objective of the bill.

I think some opposition members have not studied the issue in all of its subtlety, or perhaps they do not understand how we are trying to disincentivize people from being willing to pay up to $50,000 to the smuggling syndicates. That is what the bill seeks to do.

For example, by reducing some of the privileges that normally exist for asylum claimants in Canada, should someone who has arrived in a designated smuggling event under this bill be found by our legal system to be a bona fide refugee in need of our protection, we will not send them back to their country of origin. We will therefore respect and conform with our international and domestic legal obligations. However, there is no obligation on Canada to grant such persons immediate permanent residency, which is normally the case for successful asylum claimants.

What the bill would do would be to say that we would grant people who are deemed to be bona fide refugees who have arrived in a designated smuggling event a temporary residency status in Canada for up to five years, after which we would then reassess the conditions in their country of origin to determine whether the country conditions have improved and whether the risk that was determined at their refugee hearing still continues.

If at that point there is a determination that conditions have improved significantly in that country, that they would no longer face risk if removed, they could then face removal back to their country of origin. However, should conditions in that country not have improved after five years, they would then have access to permanent residency in Canada as a further reflection of our humanitarian instinct.

During those initial five years, here is the key disincentive. Such individuals would not be entitled to the privilege of sponsoring family members to Canada because here is the key aspect of the bill. We know that people are prepared to commit to up to $50,000 based on a calculation that they subsequently will be able to sponsor family members, so the $50,000 price point is really not associated with just the migration of one individual, the smuggled individual, but indeed all subsequent family members who may follow that successful claimant. There is a commercial calculation being made here that the $40,000 to $50,000 price point may lead to permanent residency for the primary migrant and then subsequently permanent residency for members of the family who in turn could help to pay off the debt to the smuggling syndicate.

In the bill we are seeking to create a doubt, a question mark in the minds of those who constitute the market for the smuggling gangs. Will they be able to get permanent residency in Canada? That would no longer be a certainty. Will they be able to sponsor family members and help pay off the debt? It would no longer be a certainty. We are very strongly persuaded that this is a balanced approach.

Thirteen months ago, when the last large vessel arrived off the west coast with some 500 illegal migrants, Canadians were understandably disturbed with this large scale violation of the integrity of our immigration law and with this mass human smuggling voyage. At that time public opinion polls consistently said that about two-thirds of Canadians thought the government should prevent such vessels from even entering Canadian territorial waters. About 55% of Canadians, and an even higher percentage of new Canadians, immigrants to this country, said that if people who arrive in such a vessel get access to our refugee system and are deemed to be bona fide refugees, they should be immediately returned. That is what the majority of Canadians said.

As a government, we do not believe that approach would respect our legal or humanitarian obligations. Let me be clear. Contrary to some of the demagoguery we hear from critics of the bill, we would continue, notwithstanding that public opinion environment, to allow illegally smuggled migrants who file the refugee claim access to our asylum system, which is the fairest asylum system in the world, bar none. They would continue to have access to that system. We would not send back a single person who is deemed by our legal system likely to face danger of persecution or risk to their lives in their country of origin.

This bill exceeds our international and domestic legal obligations with respect to non-refoulement of refugees. The opposition says that this is like refusing to allow Jewish refugees to come here during the second world war. Nonsense. This approach would allow any refugee, or even a false refugee claimant, access to our asylum system. It would simply reduce some of the privileges that normally are provided to asylum claimants in order to reduce their willingness to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a smuggling syndicate.

One of the contentious aspects of the bill is the enhanced detention provisions. I would invite members of the opposition, perhaps at committee, to ask members of our Canada Border Services Agency and lawyers from my ministry about the difficulty of processing hundreds of smuggled asylum claimants who are seeking release from detention, because we have to do detention reviews under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act every two, seven and then subsequent 30 days. This means that with several hundred people we have a non-stop revolving door of detention reviews which is massively inefficient.

I would also point out there has been a red herring created by the opposition about mandatory detention for up to a year of all smuggled migrants. The minister, under the bill, would have the authority to release people in exceptional circumstances, such as children. Under the new asylum system adopted by Parliament last year in Bill C-11, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, bona fide asylum claimants will receive a positive protection decision and therefore permanent residency within about three months of making their claim. Such smuggled migrants in the asylum system who are bona fide refugees would be automatically released from immigration detention when they receive a positive asylum decision, and permanent residency in about 90 days.

Let me point out by way of comparison, because there is a lack of perspective in context here, that most of our peer democracies, most other liberal democracies, including those governed by social democratic parties such as the Labour government in Australia, have mandatory detention for all or almost all asylum claimants, not just illegally smuggled asylum claimants, but all or almost all asylum claimants.

That was the law adopted by the United Kingdom under the previous social democratic Labour government. That is the law in Australia under the social democratic Labour government.

I remember Prime Minister Gillard of Australia congratulating the NDP on its 50th anniversary. She actually defends a policy that puts under permanent detention all asylum claimants until their status is resolved. This is, by comparison, a radically more modest approach which only addresses illegally smuggled migrants for a limited period of time until they receive status, which under the new system would be three months.

In closing, the bill constitutes a balanced and humane approach to combatting the scourge of human smuggling. It would allow access to our refugee protection system for bona fide victims of persecution. It would reduce the massive pressure on our system when we face hundreds of people arriving at the same time. It would provide disincentives for people to pay tens of thousands of dollars to criminal networks to be smuggled illegally to Canada, and it would encourage them rather to seek regional resettlement opportunities or protection, if they are indeed refugees.

This is a bill that Canadians expect and demand. We must stand up for our tradition of protection of refugees and our legal and generous immigration system by combatting those who would abuse our country's generosity.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Questions and comments for the minister will have to wait until the House returns to this matter.

InfrastructureStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that on September 22 players of the Moose Jaw Warriors will play their home opener in an unfamiliar setting to them and to their fans. I am speaking about a landmark facility featuring a hockey rink, an eight-sheet curling rink and much more. About 250,000 people will pass through the doors each year, bringing tourism dollars to Moose Jaw.

The Government of Canada contributed through the building Canada fund. Other major donors include the Government of Saskatchewan, the City of Moose Jaw, Moose Jaw Soccer Association, Moose Jaw Warriors and JGL Livestock.

Mosaic, a potash company with its Canadian headquarters in my riding, secured the naming rights through a donation for operational funds.

I am pleased to inform members that Moose Javians made this project a reality through their remarkable generosity and community spirit. I am honoured to be part of this community.

It is game on at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw.

Stanley CupStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, in June all Canadians watched with heartbreak as Canada's team, the Canucks, lost the final game of the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins.

Being from the beautiful city of Vancouver, I made a few friendly wagers over the outcome of that series, most notably with my friend, the member Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

I rise today to honour that wage by standing in the House to praise the victorious team.

As it turns out, this is an easy task because the essence of the Bruins' victory lies in the heart of British Columbia.

Milan Lucic, the magnificent Bruins' power forward, is a product of, members guessed it, Vancouver. Mr. Lucic was born in Vancouver and learned his craft in the rinks of East Vancouver, including in the great riding of Vancouver Kingsway.

The incomparable, recently retired Mark Recchi, holder of three Stanley Cup rings, was also born in beautiful British Columbia, in Kamloops.

Therefore, as I rise to praise the Boston Bruins, I do so proudly with the full knowledge that their victory was only made possible through the contribution of outstanding British Columbians.

Rosalie HallStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to thank my constituents for placing their trust in me. Scarborough Centre is right in the heart of Scarborough and it is a great privilege to represent such a diverse and vibrant community.

Since being elected to office, I have visited a multitude of different organizations and I am humbled to have met so many wonderful people who make up the very fabric of this great riding.

In fact, just last week, I was fortunate to be able to visit Rosalie Hall, a young parent resource centre situated right beside the Scarborough General Hospital. Serving the community for nearly 100 years, Rosalie Hall has focused in on the health, educational needs and the overall well-being of both young mothers and their children.

I would like to applaud and congratulate Mr. Alan Nickell, executive director, his staff and all of the remarkable volunteers at Rosalie Hall for serving the community and for their outstanding work in providing support and opening up new avenues for so many deserving young women and their families.

Child NutritionStatements by Members

September 19th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, students across Canada recently returned to school. When I was a school board trustee, I saw, first-hand, children who had nothing to eat. We now know that this situation is only getting worse. A growing number of children are starting their school days on empty stomachs. We all know that being hungry makes it impossible to maintain the concentration needed for learning in order to pursue one's education, which is crucial to Canada's future.

Despite local community organizations' superhuman efforts to help these schoolchildren, too many of them still do not have anything to eat. We need to do a great deal more. Is it too much to ask this government to introduce a national nutrition program that could help these victims in our society?

UkraineStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently we have seen some very troubling events take place in Ukraine. The persecution, arrest and continued detention of Yulia Tymoshenko, along with many others, are cause for great concern both in Canada as well as in the international community. Also, we deplore the murder of the journalist Georgy Gongadze and the harassment and intimidation of Ukrainian historians who draw attention to Ukrainian national resistance during Soviet rule.

These apparently politically motivated actions undermine the rule of law and human rights, which are at the core of all democracies. The Ukrainian people, having long lived under the rule of regressive and undemocratic Soviet policies, will not accept a return to darker times. Ukrainians deserve to live in a peaceful and prosperous society, where they can enjoy the same freedoms and safeties seen across other western nations.

I stand with the 1.25 million Ukrainian-Canadians, many of whom reside in my riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, who urge the Ukrainian government to strengthen judiciary independence free of political interference.

Slava Ukrainia.

Wapikoni MobileStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about Wapikoni Mobile, a project involving two travelling studios that have visited over a dozen first nations villages every year for the past seven years.

To date, 2,000 young people have learned to create and produce movies and music and develop basic skills, life skills and even survival skills.

This program is for marginalized youth who are not reachable in the more traditional ways: youth at risk for dropping out of school, addiction or suicide.

Wapikoni Mobile restores their confidence and their appetite for learning and helps them prepare to enter the workforce.

The proof is in the pudding: the project creates local jobs and has won 44 Canadian and international awards. What is more, these contemporary works help break down stereotypes and promote aboriginal culture across the country and throughout the world.

Long live Wapikoni, in spite of the recent unexpected cuts to the program.

Sarnia Labour Day ParadeStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in our nation's House of Commons to call attention to the 2011 Sarnia Labour Day parade, an annual tradition in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton since 1902. Cool weather and little rain could not dampen the spirits of the marchers, and the crowds lined the streets numbering in the thousands and cheered on the 57 separate entries that formed the parade's floats.

Sarnia—Lambton has a strong tradition of support for the local labour force, and this was evident on September 5 as local unions were joined by the St. Clair Drum Line, members of the Sarnia Sting and Sarnia Braves baseball team and the mayor's 2010 honour list recipients. Eight trophies were presented to participants, including the Save the Sarnia Jail committee that won for best overall union float.

I send my congratulations for such a great success to the president of the Sarnia District Labour Council, June Maruschak, and the chief organizer for the 2011 parade, Penny Jakubowski.

On behalf of Sarnia—Lambton, I extend my thanks.

Foreign AffairsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the leader of the Palestinian Authority confirmed what had long been rumoured: the Palestinians intend to seek full membership and state recognition at the United Nations during this week's general assembly meetings.

I was proud to hear the Prime Minister say a very short time later that Canada would vote against such a move, calling it “not helpful” to the cause of peace. This is an attempt to circumvent the negotiation process. It will make a resumption of peace talks more difficult, raise expectations, yet not change the facts on the ground or improve lives and could lead to heightened frustrations. The result could be mass demonstrations or even another intifada. This will only contribute to regional instability.

Our government believes the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through negotiations between the parties. It is our hope negotiations can resume as soon as possible.

I am confident the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs will make Canada's views widely known in New York this week. Hon. members should be prepared to consider all options if this unilateral action succeeds.

William CommandaStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on August 3, Algonquin elder William Commanda passed away at the age of 97 at his home in Kitigan Zibi, near Maniwaki.

William Commanda was a pillar of our community. He was generous in sharing his wisdom. He was a visionary and an exceptional man. He leaves behind a legacy that will forever inspire us.

I extend my deepest condolences to Chief Gilbert Whiteduck, the grandfather's family, the Algonquin nation and his followers in Canada and abroad.

His wisdom, patience and sense of humour will be missed and, although he is no longer with us, his memory will help guide us as we pursue his quest for justice and peace in the world.

We thank Grandfather Commanda for his contributions.

Miigwetch.

ArcticNetStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to tell the House about our government's latest commitment to northern environmental protection, a five-year renewal of funding for ArcticNet.

Last week the Minister of Industry announced a $67 million contribution toward ArcticNet's research, which is focused on sustainable development, marine ecosystems, clean air and other challenges facing our north. Thanks to this commitment to ArcticNet, researchers and communities will be able to work together to better understand our northern environment, which is key to building a prosperous and environmentally protected north.

After years of neglect by the previous Liberal government, and despite the anti-development opposition of the NDP, our government, led by our Prime Minister, is acting to ensure that the north fulfills its true potential as a healthy, prosperous, environmentally protected and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada.

Jack LaytonStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to my late friend and colleague Jack Layton, Leader of the Opposition and member of Parliament for Toronto—Danforth. He was my friend and my family's friend, but he was also every family's friend, especially those who long for social justice, economic security or simply recognition of their value in society.

We each have our own memories of Jack: how he reached out to us and touched us by his humanity; how he inspired us by his commitment and dedication; how he showed his compassion for people and his passion for showing others that there is a better way to do things. We remember how he loved people and how people loved him back.

In his letter to Canadians, he offers us the watchwords of “love”, “hope” and “optimism”, his belief in young people and the future they can help us to create, and the conviction that we can succeed.

By his own life and his political career, he has shown us that it can be done, and now it is up to us to make it happen.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, since taking office, the Conservative government has been focusing on what matters to Canadians—creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

I am pleased that Canada has been ranked as having the soundest banks in the world for the fourth year in a row, and that nearly 600,000 net new jobs have been created since July 2009, the strongest growth record in the G7.

Our economic recovery remains fragile and too many Canadians are still looking for work. That is why we are firmly focused on the implementation of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan—a low-tax plan for jobs and growth. We want to keep the Canadian economy on the right track with measures such as the hiring credit for small business.

Child NutritionStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian children have returned to school, but many of them are going to class hungry. Forty per cent of elementary students and 62% of secondary school students do not eat a nutritious breakfast. One in five Canadian children lives below the poverty line, which may lead to poor nutritional status and poor child health outcomes.

However, Canadian children from all income brackets are vulnerable to inadequate nutrition. Hungry children cannot learn. Their learning capabilities are affected by how recently they have eaten. Malnutrition in early life can limit long-term intellectual development.

Fortunately, school nutrition programs are highly effective in providing children with nutritious diets, better cognitive abilities and health. Unfortunately, Canada is one of the few developed countries without a national nutrition program.

Access to adequate food is a right of every individual. We must therefore fight for a national school nutrition program for all our children.

Battle of BritainStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, this September. we commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Britain. As the first major battle fought primarily in the air and a turning point in the Second World War, the Battle of Britain remains a critical event in our past.

Britain looked to the skies for support and Canadians and the Royal Canadian Air Force were there. Our valiant airmen worked with British and allied forces to save Britain from invasion and pave the way for the liberation of Europe. When it became clear that the Royal Air Force would not buckle, the battle ended and Britain was safe.

Today, Canada remembers its heroes. We pay tribute to our history and honour the generation of Canadians who bravely served this country, as well as those who wear the Canadian uniform with pride today.

Not long ago, we revived the memory of Churchill's 'Few' as we reintroduced the Royal Canadian Air Force to Canada and our allies.

As Canadians, we owe it to our veterans to honour their legacy, and watching the Hurricane and the Spitfire slip the surly bonds of earth over Ottawa on the weekend provided a beautiful and poignant reminder of that history and heritage.

Today, Canada remembers the veterans of the Battle of Britain. Lest we forget.

William CommandaStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, on August 3, 2011, a great man passed away. William Commanda, the spiritual leader of an international peace movement, the Circle of Nations, died at the age of 97.

In my riding of Pontiac, he was the chief of the Kitigan Zibi reserve from 1951 to 1970. He dedicated his entire life to protecting the environment and staunchly defending the rights of aboriginal peoples.

William Commanda was a trapper, a guide, a birch bark canoe craftsman, a chief and a spiritual leader who travelled around the world.

Mr. Commanda received a number of distinctions, including the lifetime achievement award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation.

My NDP colleagues and I offer our sincere condolences to Mr. Commanda's family and to the entire Algonquin nation.

Rest in peace, Ojigkwanong.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

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

Canada's economy has created nearly 600,000 net new jobs since July 2009. It is the strongest job growth record in the G7. What is more, both the IMF and the OECD forecast Canada's economy will be among the strongest in the G7. Moody's recently renewed Canada's AAA credit rating due to our economic resiliency, very high government financial strength and a low susceptibility to event risk.

However, the global economic recovery is fragile and the last thing Canada's economy needs now is the NDP and Liberal massive job-killing tax hikes. Staying the course with our prudent low-tax plan will support Canada's economic recovery and help create jobs for all Canadians.

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is still looking at the economy through rose-coloured glasses. Just as in 2008, he is refusing to see the signs. Scotiabank is warning that Canada is on the verge of another recession. Moody's is sounding the alarm about household debt. Investments are down and the government's solution is to slash services.

When will the Prime Minister take action to create jobs and avoid another economic crisis?

The EconomyOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Hull—Aylmer on her first question as Leader of the Opposition.

The government's position is clear—the economy is our number one priority. The global economy is very fragile, as I said many times last year. We need to continue focusing our work on creating jobs through measures such as investing in research, all while keeping taxes low.