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House of Commons Hansard #168 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservatives.

Topics

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. Could I interrupt the hon. Leader of the Opposition and ask that he slow down. The translators are having a difficult time. He will have the opportunity to complete reading his motion. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

That the clauses mentioned in section (g) of this motion do compose Bill C-53; that Bill C-53 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Health;

That the clauses mentioned in section (h) of this motion do compose Bill C-54; that Bill C-54 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration;

That the clauses mentioned in section (i) and (k) of this motion do compose Bill C-55; that Bill C-55 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development;

That the clauses mentioned in section (j) of this motion do compose Bill C-56; that Bill C-56 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food; and

That the clauses mentioned in section (l) of this motion do compose Bill C-57; that Bill C-57 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;

That Bill C-45 retain the status on the order paper that it had prior to the adoption of this order; that Bill C-45 be reprinted as amended; and that the law clerk and parliamentary counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.

Mr. Speaker, we are proposing this motion to better study individually in the appropriate parliamentary committees this omnibus budget bill, which touches on dozens of different pieces of legislation. We find this motion to be in the interests of this parliamentary institution that has been so hard pressed by a Conservative majority that thinks it can run roughshod over the rights of Parliament.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to move the motion?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

He does not.

The time for government orders has expired. As such, the member will have a period for questions and comments when this matter returns to the House.,

It being 5:32 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

moved that Bill C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials), be read the third time and passed.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

October 24th, 2012 / 5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill C-321, an act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials). I congratulate the member for bringing this forward. This is not the first time that he has done so.

Reading the summary of the private member's bill took me back to the years when I first came to Canada as an immigrant from South Africa. As a young person, I lived on the west side of Vancouver, not far from the UBC gates, and there was no permanent library. Every Thursday afternoon I would head down to 10th Avenue where the mobile book library would come from downtown. It would circulate through the different parts of Vancouver and Thursday night was our night on 10th Avenue. I would spend at least an hour in the mobile library, a big van with rows of books. An important part of my becoming a Canadian was starting to read novels and non-fiction Canadian books. That is also why I have a lifetime love of learning and reading.

This legislation supports that kind of commitment to literacy and lifelong learning and will be supported by the Liberal Party as the right thing to do. It would create access to library materials for people who need them and extend these to reflect the realities of today.

Bill C-45--Notice of time allocation motionJobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Our economic action plan is working and it has helped support the creation of over 830,000 net new jobs since the downturn, but there is more to do. To continue this work we need to implement our plan for the passage of Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act.

I would like to advise that an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-45, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures. Thus, under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at this stage. It is my intention to propose four further days for the second reading debate of Bill C-45.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials), be read the third time and passed.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the final vote approaches on Bill C-321, which amends the Canada Post Corporation Act and allows for a continued lower postage rate for library materials.

I am strongly in favour of the bill, and I thank the member for Brandon—Souris for his continued efforts, as this is indeed his third attempt. New Democrats unanimously supported the previous versions of the bill, including in committee, so we are pleased to rise today to renew our support for the bill at third reading.

This bill hits close to home, for two reasons. First, as my colleagues undoubtedly know, I am a teacher, which is why I will always vigorously support this House's efforts to encourage lifelong learning—through reading in this case—and to support culture and the dissemination of knowledge everywhere in Canada. I could tell a great many personal stories involving the students I had the chance to work with for 25 years, but seeing as time is limited, I will have to move on.

The resource materials provided by our libraries contribute to the learning and education of every Canadian.That is why we hope books can be distributed and shared at a low cost across Canada.

I would like to remind my honourable colleagues present that, since 1939, Canadian libraries have shared books at a reduced postal rate. It is vital that a federal institution such as Canada Post, which must serve all Canadians, provide such a service.

We cannot deny that we are pleased to support this bill, which is rather unique in that it places more emphasis on cultural and educational aspects than on economic considerations. It is quite rare for the government to do so, and I wanted to highlight this historic first.

I am also pleased to see that the bill retains the broader definition of library materials, which includes audiovisual and reading materials, of course.

Today, a library is much more than just a place to store books. Libraries are cultural hubs that provide a great variety of documents in very diverse formats. The nature of books is changing and will probably continue to do so in the decades to come. By passing this bill, we are maintaining access to library materials for all Canadians and we are maintaining fairness within the national network.

We also encourage small libraries to lend their collections and their archival documents to larger libraries in urban centres and vice versa. We would also point out that this exchange of documents allows Canadians who might be far away from one another to get to know each other better and recognize commonalities among their diverse fellow citizens.

The second thing that drew my attention in the bill was the key role played by the Canada Post Corporation. I must express a number of concerns I have about this.

Under the direction of the Conservative government, the Canada Post Corporation is closing a number of post offices and transferring certain services to private sector outlets. In the first six months of 2012, at least 16 post offices closed or received a notice of closure. In the next few months, Canada Post is expected to close another 40 or so post offices across the country. I just received an email informing me that the post office in Durham will be closing, and the list will probably grow over the next few weeks.

The NDP strongly opposes this quiet privatization, which has a negative impact on service to Canadians and businesses, and jeopardizes the Canadian economy. This modernization of Canada Post, if you can call it that, is troubling in the context of the bill currently before the House.

Because of the Conservatives, more and more isolated towns and communities are losing their Canada Post services. How will they receive the books that this bill refers to? How can this bill achieve its objectives if Canada Post services continue to dwindle?

It seems ironic, and even illogical, to see some Conservatives rise to support our libraries—something we agree with—and to support maintaining reduced postage rates, while others—or even the same ones—are in the process of reducing the number of post offices across the country.

Bill C-321 is an important bill. If we lost the reduced postage rates for library books, we would end up with a two-tier library system, based on the user's means and wealth. That is unacceptable in a country where access to knowledge is the key to prosperity and future economic development.

Bill C-321 also shows that it is not a mortal sin to require a business to guarantee something that could be considered an essential service in terms of culture and education.

That is why, while the Conservatives are busy making budget cuts—such as the ones to Library and Archives Canada—I will vote in favour of this bill.

However, this does not mean that Canadian libraries are in the clear. Far from it. We must stop privatizing the Canada Post Corporation and ensure that our heritage collections are accessible to as many Canadians as possible.

Canada Post currently offers Canadian libraries a reduced rate for library books, and there is no reason to believe that the corporation could not continue to offer this reduced rate in the future.

This provision would prevent Canada Post from unilaterally changing its reduced postage rate, which could cut interlibrary loan services in rural regions and remote areas of the country.

We must act now to ensure that our library system remains fair and accessible to all Canadians in all communities, especially official language minority communities.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Resuming debate. Seeing no members rise, is the House ready for the question?

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to begin the adjournment debate by discussing the selection of foods to subsidize for communities in the far north. I am very pleased because it will give me an opportunity to talk about my meeting with the UN rapporteur, Mr. De Schutter. If my memory serves me well, we met with him last April. I had the opportunity to speak to him for a few minutes. I gave him first-hand information. In fact, I had some photographs and privileged information about the real impact of the food subsidy program in Canada's far north and especially about the quality of food in remote communities.

By way of information, I would like to repeat that I come from a community located not far from the 52nd parallel. The quality of the food on my home reserve of Uashat is not always the best. What I told Mr. De Schutter from the outset is that junk food is available very cheaply in my community. For example, I provided the UN rapporteur with a photograph that showed that two litres of pop costs 99¢ in my community, while a carton of milk costs $4 or $5. The decision is obvious for families with fairly limited incomes. This is one of the subjects I discussed with the UN rapporteur. Even though, strictly speaking, my community has access to inexpensive food, the quality is not necessarily the best.

It is also important to understand that Mr. De Schutter's visit and the report he issued caused quite an outcry from the Conservatives. They tried to demonize the UN rapporteur, which I humbly submit does not bode very well for international relations. However, the report is worthy of note and of interest. By the way, I would like to say hello to Mr. De Schutter. Perhaps he is in Europe watching me right now.

While he was here, I emphasized the fact that the quality of food is sometimes questionable, that products for mass consumption, whether it be chips or pop, are far too widely available, and that children have direct access to these foods at corner stores and grocery stores in the community.

I also stressed another point that, until now, has been overlooked, and that is alcoholic beverages with a very high alcohol content, which are only available in remote communities and possibly in some of the poorer areas of Montreal. People are being targeted so specifically that when representatives of the Brewers Association of Canada came to meet with me and I spoke to them about these beverages with an alcohol content of 10% and 11% that are sold in 1.2 litre quantities, even they did not have any knowledge of them.

I mentioned this to Mr. De Schutter. In such remote communities, near the 52nd parallel, when you can buy 1.2 litres of 10% or 11% alcohol for $5, but a quart of milk costs $4 or $5, there is a real problem. It is a real problem. These products are targeted. That is what I wanted to say today: these poor-quality products are targeted at this country's remote and aboriginal communities. The same thing is going on in ghettos, inner cities and poor communities across the country.

That is all, Mr. Speaker.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to the question from the hon. member for Manicouagan. Our government is working with partners across Canada to deliver tangible and lasting results for aboriginal people and to ensure they are well positioned to be full participants in a strong Canadian economy. We support food security for aboriginal communities through a number of programs, including nutrition north Canada.

In April 2011, nutrition north Canada was launched with the goal of improving access to nutritious perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, bread, meats, milk and eggs for Canadians living in remote communities. It is a subsidy program that encourages registered retailers, suppliers or wholesalers to choose the most economical options for shipping goods to remote communities. These retailers must then pass on the savings to their customers.

Nutrition north Canada data shows that the subsidy is reducing food prices and is encouraging northerners to buy more nutritious and perishable foods. Nutrition north Canada benefits 103 remote northern communities in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The Government of Canada does not set or regulate retail food prices. However, under the nutrition north Canada program, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has the authority to ensure that retailers fulfill their obligation of passing on the program subsidies to their consumers.

In addition, as country food such as Arctic char, caribou and muskox are a vital food source, our government is committed to ensuring it remains a key part of northerners' diets. That is why commercially produced country foods are included for subsidy under nutrition north Canada.

Country foods produced in federally regulated northern commercial food processing plants are eligible for a subsidy under nutrition north Canada. Health Canada and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada are working with other federal departments and stakeholders on options to improve access to country food in the north.

We welcome the public discussion that is under way on how various governments and stakeholders, including all members of Parliament, can work together to improve the health and wellness of northerners. Clearly, our government remains committed to providing northerners with healthy food choices through the nutrition north Canada program.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government cares so much about the quality of the foods that will be distributed to remote communities that it allocated only a few hundred dollars for country foods in the latest budget. This was mentioned here. I am sure that its airtime is worth more than the money it actually invested.

If the mining and industry programs move forward, the caribou population will suffer and we will see a noticeable decline.

People are in charge of distributing country meat, which I should point out is happening less and less.

When the person in charge of distribution has to take care of staffing and distribution in remote communities, all they will be able to say is aputukut shuniau, meaning that there was no money invested and there was only about a hundred dollars for the whole country. That is not nearly enough for country food, which is essential and is part of the traditional diet in remote northern communities.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, our government is taking action to improve access to fresh, nutritious food for people living in isolated northern communities. I am very proud to report that, working together with aboriginal people from across the country, we have made tremendous headway in ensuring that they have access to the same quality of life as other Canadians.

Our government will continue to work with aboriginal partners across Canada to deliver tangible and lasting results and ensure aboriginal people are well positioned to be full participants in a strong Canadian economy.

Telecommunications IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, cellphone theft is a serious problem in my riding of York South--Weston, across Canada and, indeed, North America. It especially affects high school kids who are being violently mugged for their mobile devices. According to the metro Toronto police, 85% of street robberies in my riding in Toronto are related to cellphone theft. The Toronto chief of police and the Toronto Police Services Board have called for measures to combat what they describe as an epidemic of cellphone thefts.

Earlier this summer I hosted a media conference with representatives from the Toronto police and students from Chaminade College School in my riding where cellphone theft has been prevalent. Fifteen students have been mugged at this school alone for their cellphones. Alex Escobar, a student from the school who spoke at the event, called for government to take measures to protect against cellphone theft, saying, “We've seen our friends robbed”. Students have already begun organizing petitions calling for government action to protect against cellphone theft. Every month of delay in taking action is another serious crime taking place in and around that school and in my riding.

The simple solution to this crime is to make stolen cellphones useless. We must force cellphone companies to refuse to activate phones that are reported stolen.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission tells me that it has the power to do this. The CRTC can, under section 24 of the Telecommunications Act, require cellphone carriers to keep a record of all cellphones reported as stolen, share this information among other cellphone carriers and require cellphone carriers not to activate any stolen cellphone. It is as simple as that.

Carriers have expressed concern about who will pay for it. The good new is that, in their letter to the CRTC, they have identified that the global services for mobile association has already created the database and it is free to use and that the cellphone carriers can use it at no charge.

I have tabled a motion in the House asking the government to direct the CRTC to take action on this matter. When I asked the question in the House earlier this month, “Will the government get smart on crime and direct the CRTC to take action”, unfortunately, the minister gave me a reply about government policies concerning cellphone towers. Perhaps he misunderstood the question. Here is a chance to get it right.

Will the government immediately get smart on crime and direct the CRTC to take action on cellphone theft?

Telecommunications IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, first I will provide some context regarding the government's larger telecommunications agenda before turning to the specifics of cellphone theft. This agenda forms part of Canada's plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Our goal is to strengthen the financial security of Canadian workers and families to help create good jobs and long-term prosperity in every region of the country.

The telecommunications sector is an important part of this prosperous, productive and competitive Canadian economy and society. Our government's job is to ensure that the appropriate regulatory frameworks are in place to encourage both investment and competition so that Canadians have access to advanced telecommunications services at competitive prices.

Our government is building on our strong record of encouraging greater competition and consumer choice in telecommunications. This is why earlier this year we announced a series of new measures for the telecommunications sector, including the reform of investment restrictions and the release of a framework for the upcoming spectrum auctions.

With the increasing use of cellphones, especially smartphones, by Canadians, the issue of cellphone theft has been identified by chiefs of police as a growing problem. Our government is committed to the reduction of crime in Canada. Within 100 sitting days after the election, we passed the Safe Streets and Communities Act, legislation designed to protect Canadian citizens from harm.

In addition, we have proposed amendments to our privacy laws to enhance consumer confidence in the online marketplace and passed anti-spam legislation to protect both consumers and businesses.

The Minister of Industry is responsible for telecommunications policy under the Telecommunications Act, while the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, is responsible for the regulation of telecommunications and broadcasting services in Canada.

The CRTC is taking the issue of cellphone theft seriously and has said so plainly and publicly. The commission has requested information from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association on what initiatives the wireless industry is undertaking to protect consumers from being victims of mobile device theft.

Most recently, on September 28, the CRTC noted that if it were not satisfied by the response of the CWTA, it would investigate what further regulatory action needed to be taken to provide the necessary tools to help consumers in this regard. Our government is closely monitoring the progress of these efforts.

Our government is taking strong action to make Canada a safer place for our families and to strengthen our country's prosperity and competitiveness.

Telecommunications IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not need a lecture on the industry. What is needed is direction to the CRTC to actually get on with this problem.

No more study is required. The database exists. The cellphone companies have access to the database and they can use it. It is not rocket science to fix the problem.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission has already directed their cellphone industry to develop the methods required to track cellphone theft and ensure that no stolen cellphone is reactivated.

The CRTC can do this in Canada to protect our own cellphone users. Why will the government not direct the CRTC to get this done, get it done now before any further thefts take place, before any further muggings of high school students take place in my riding, and to protect cellphone users?

Telecommunications IndustryAdjournment Proceedings

6 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government is taking action against the crime of cellphone theft, just as it is committed to reducing all crime in Canada.

The agency responsible for the regulation of telecommunications in Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, CRTC, is taking the issue of lost and stolen mobile devices very seriously. The CRTC has requested information from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, CWTA, on what measures the industry is taking to protect consumers.

As I mentioned earlier, most recent, on September 28, not even a month ago, the CRTC noted that if it was not satisfied by the response of the CWTA, it would investigate what further regulatory action was needed to be taken to provide the necessary tools to help consumers in this regard.

We are closely monitoring these efforts, consistent with our strong actions to address crime and protect Canadians.

Science and TechnologyAdjournment Proceedings

6 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, the parliamentary secretary, for being here tonight to answer these questions.

My question is not about the overall level of funding for research in Canada. It is not about the overall number of research projects that are supported by the federal government. I hope the member opposite does not simply recite those figures again, which is what happened in question period the first time.

My question is about the fact that the current government is moving toward more support for industry-academic partnerships, which is research directed by a particular industry partner that has proprietary interests. By itself, this is okay, but what is happening is that this new support for industry-academic partnerships is coming at the expense of funding basic research. That is what is happening now in the budget of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and it is happening at the National Research Council.

Game changing discoveries come from basic research. I will give one example of this sort of curiosity-driven research which results in unexpected discoveries that have a lot of economic importance.

The example comes from the University of Sherbrooke. In the late 1980s, it developed something called the algebraic code-excited linear prediction. It is a patented mathematical algorithm for converting sounds, such as voice messages, to digital signals. In fact, it is used in most cellphones around the world today. It is used in Windows Media Player, RealPlayer and QuickTime Player. These are things that are familiar to people who use computers and the Internet today.

This is an example of basic research, which was not conducted with any particular company's bottom line or near or middle-term interests in mind. However, I think the researchers realized that this research had a lot of potential, so they undertook it.

A lot of people would say that Canadian research needs to be more attuned to what the market is saying, what the needs of the market are, and we should be asking the market what research needs to be done. However, this is not always the case and there are some interesting historical examples of where the market has been wrong.

These are some rather famous quotes.

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, said in 1943, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”.

Ken Olsen, the president and founder of DEC, Digital Equipment Corporation, said in 1977, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”.

One of the Warner brothers said in 1927, “Who the...wants to hear actors talk?”

Steve Jobs said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”.

The market does not always know a good next step in the development of some technology. Therefore, it is important to support the possibility of unexpected game changing discoveries that are directed by the curiosity of researchers.

Why is the government funding moving away to research where a company decides what a university research does and doing that at the expense of basic research? Again, my question is not about the overall level of spending in research. It is not about the number of projects that are supported. I hope my hon. colleague will answer in that respect.