House of Commons Hansard #176 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.


The House resumed from October 30 consideration of the motion that Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, be read the third time and passed.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue the speech I began last week on Bill S-201.

As I said last week, I will be supporting Bill S-201 in its present form. However, I cannot stress enough that this bill to create National Philanthropy Day is not nearly enough and does not come close to meeting the needs in terms of what we can do to support philanthropy. I will not repeat everything I already said in that regard. I will get directly to the point.

As my party's critic for seniors, I have met with several associations and groups—intervention, support, political and advocacy groups—working on the ground that must rely on volunteers and the commitment of their members day in and day out.

During each of my consultations with groups, associations and organizations over the past year and a half, when it came to identifying the issues and challenges they face, the creation of National Philanthropy Day was never at the top of their list.

This does not necessarily mean that they opposed the creation of National Philanthropy Day, but it was definitely not the most pressing need facing the people working on the ground who provide such valuable services to the public. The vast majority of the time, the most urgent need identified by volunteers, groups and associations was financial support.

Volunteer work represents a large portion of the work done in this country. This work is unpaid, but it is no less important than the services offered by the public and private sectors. Unfortunately, these organizations need stable financial support.

They cannot fill out paperwork year after year and then, every third year, worry about whether or not they will receive the grant or amount of money they need to keep going. They are forced to plan for the very short term. They often implement projects that meet the real needs of their community, but then have to abandon these vital projects within a few years, after investing a great deal of time and energy into them, because grants provide very short-term funding and must be renewed, or depend on the government of the day. That is a real need, something that the government could do if it were serious about acknowledging philanthropy.

I would like to speak briefly about what a national philanthropy day could achieve, in real terms or otherwise. I have been a member of this House for more than one and a half hears and, unfortunately, I am coming to the realization that all too often, bills are introduced to show Canadians that an issue is being taken seriously, or that the parliamentary system is useful. Unfortunately, when we dig a little deeper, we often realize that it is a smokescreen, that a big show is being put on that does not really do anything about an issue, but that lets us sit back and say that the issue was taken seriously and that action was taken.

There are many things we could do to truly support philanthropy in our country, but a national philanthropy day seems to be one of the least effective means of taking a stand. What will this initiative really do for our communities?

As a member of Parliament, I can see that cities and communities are struggling with unbelievable tax loads, with road networks that are in need of work and repairs, and with other significant burdens and tasks. These communities are waiting for support from the provincial and federal governments, but too often this support unfortunately never comes. These municipalities and regions are already struggling with many burdens, tasks and expenses.

The federal government is unexpectedly downloading more and more costs onto the provinces.

The expected health transfers are decreasing, and the age for old age security eligibility is changing from 65 to 67. Once again, the provinces will end up footing the bill. The provinces have had enough; they cannot take any more.

I agree with having a philanthropy day, but how will it be celebrated? Who will pay for the celebrations and awards given to philanthropists? Choosing a date on the calendar is not enough. What will this give us in a practical sense? Who will be able to organize activities to celebrate this new national day? People are wondering. The municipalities and provinces do not need another expense or another burden.

Will the federal government provide funding to those who want to celebrate this national day? I am not sure. I have not seen any specific details on this in the bill.

Everyone in this House recognizes the importance of philanthropy for our country, but we do not agree on how to support it. What measures need to be put in place? Beyond passing a bill and choosing a date on the calendar, how can we encourage and recognize philanthropy in tangible ways? This is something that is worth thinking about.

In this regard, my NDP colleague introduced or will introduce a bill that includes very tangible measures to support philanthropy. I hope that members of all parties will move beyond lip service and support this bill at second reading, even if it is just to seriously examine how we can provide tangible support for philanthropy. This is not a partisan issue. All members of the House agree that philanthropy must be encouraged, but the issue is how to do so. Everyone agrees that a national day is not nearly enough and is not a very tangible measure.

There are exceptional people in my riding and across the country who are very active and who give of their time and talent to their community and their country on an ongoing basis. I am thinking of George Nydam, an extremely active retiree who advocates for quality public transit in his riding; of Paulette Siag, the president of the Dollard-des-Ormeaux seniors' club, which has over 500 members; and of Colette Zielinski, another retiree and activist who heads up a group that provides services to people with arthritis.

These are just a few examples, but I could go on naming people for hours. I will not do so because my time is up, but I would like to end my speech by sincerely congratulating all those who get involved in order to support their communities and their country.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to rise to speak in support of Bill S-201 to establish a national day of philanthropy on November 15.

I want to talk about why philanthropy is important and what philanthropy is. Some people might just say, “Cut taxes, establish property rights, support the free market and things will take care of themselves in the world. Everybody will eventually get taken care of”. I want to talk about why that view is insufficient.

When I think about that question, I also think about why I chose to be a member of the Liberal Party of Canada. The way I look at how government should work, what the role of government is in society, fits very well with the Liberal Party's view. My abbreviated explanation for why I feel I belong in the Liberal Party is that when I look back at my own life, I see that the things I have been able to do, the things I have been to accomplish, came from 50% hard work and 50% luck. That view of the combination of things that led to what I have accomplished also leads me to believe that the government should act in a certain way.

Here in the Liberal Party, as with many other people, we believe in hard work. We believe in standing on one's own two feet. We believe in paying one's way and reaping what one sows. We believe in individual responsibility. Liberals also believe in nurturing strong families and in the self-reliance of strong, extended families.

We also see that in society we do not all have equality of opportunity. We do not have the same starting points in life, the same nurturing families or neighbourhoods. We do not have the same health. We do not have access to the same education. The Liberals have recognized all of that in their own lives, and how plain, dumb luck was important in contributing to the success or failure of certain parts of our lives.

Liberals also believe in the power of a market economy where goods and services have prices that carry information and that should reflect reality, and where resources are thereby allocated efficiently to maximize the growth of the economic pie. We believe we should not always be focused on cutting the pie into exactly equal slices.

We know that three things in a market can cause economic distortions and be a net detriment to the world. We believe we get what we pay for. We also know that markets are never perfect. There are externalities. A big one, for example, is the ability to pollute for free, which has distorted many economies including our own. There is also asymmetric information in economies where big companies have the advantage of knowing exactly what is going on in the world. They have the resources to do that. People shopping on the retail level do not have the same information and markets often do not work very well in those cases.

There are often different risk tolerances in the market. When people are in danger of not having shelter or not having food or facing their own mortality, decisions can be made, which are bad over the long term. That is another case where markets cannot work. People often do not have the time or the resources to be informed and participate in the market.

Certain things cannot participate in the market. Wildlife or the natural environment does not participate in the market, so it does not get a voice and it does not get to express the things it values in the marketplace. That is when the market can break down. Then sometimes there is unfair ownership of public goods. Art, science and other things of public value are not recognized by the market. That is another place where markets can break down.

Therefore, we know two things. We know we do not have equality of opportunity and we know we do not have markets that work perfectly. Markets never work perfectly. The idea that we can simply cut taxes, let people stand on their own two feet, establish private property rights and support a free market and that will solve everything and set up a good society does not work in practice.

What role does philanthropy play? What role does volunteering time or donating money have to play in making a better society? Why not have a government program to correct all the problems?

I think that goes back to what philanthropy and charity mean. It is very clear, when one looks at the roots of the words “philanthropy” and “charity”, that it is about love of God, love of man and loving one's neighbour as oneself. Philanthropy comes from a desire to express that love.

We can have the best government programs one could imagine, but without love, without a reason for wanting to care for the people around us, the people we live with, all of those programs are rather meaningless and our existence is rather meaningless. It is the love behind what we do that defines who are.

I have often asked people from different countries what their babies call their mothers when they are little. Everybody I have asked, from Africa, Asia and different parts of the world, say that their babies call their mothers “mama”. That is common to people speaking all sorts of different languages, and it is not surprising. I think that evolution of communication between mother and child really led to the development of human beings' ability to communicate and become civilized. I have always thought that perhaps humans should be defined as the animal whose babies call their mothers “mama”.

However, I think it is really the other way around. We are defined by the love mothers have for their infants, which we do not see anywhere else in the natural world. This is a love that is foreign to the economics here, the marketplace. It is a love that is a free gift, something that is not earned or even deserved. It is just given. I think that is what should define us as humans, which is why philanthropy is important.

That is why it is important for private individuals and governments to work together to make society a better place. It is why it is not enough to simply have government programs to try to solve every problem. It is important for people to donate what time and money they have to make their society a better place. It is also important for people to engage and participate in their democratic government to make it strong to serve the people of this country.

Wherever we see this true philanthropy that comes from the desire to express love, we should recognize it and honour it. That is the real reason I think we should establish a national day of philanthropy and why we should pass the bill.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Oak Ridges—Markham, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, for bringing forward Bill S-201, which would designate November 15 every year as National Philanthropy Day.

According to Statistics Canada, 80% of Canadians give to a charity, have given and in 2010 gave almost $11 billion alone. Philanthropy is not just about donating money. His Excellency the Governor General recently described philanthropy as giving “time, talent and treasure”, noting particularly that two-thirds of the meaning honestly had nothing to do with money. Very simply, it was giving of oneself.

Philanthropy can very simply be described as anything one can do to make the world a little better place. When Canadians give of their time, talent and money, they can and they have made Canada a better place. I know locally in my riding, Volunteer & Information Quinte, one organization, represents and comprises more than 150 agencies and various organizations.

I would like to mention a few today that I have had the personal pleasure to be involved with. There is Alternatives for Women. There is the Alzheimer Society; I participate in the annual walk as much as possible to demonstrate, of course, that it is so important not only to support the victims but the affected families. There is the Canadian Hearing Society and the Canadian Cancer Society. Locally I was privileged to act as the past president of the local Canadian Cancer Society, and every year we have thousands of people who participate in the cure for cancer walk in our riding, which I know we are all so pleased to support.

There is the Christmas Sharing Program that is out there for families who at that time of year need that special help. There is Operation Red Nose. Not every community has one, but we are so blessed in our riding to have a group of people who put together such a caring group of volunteers who decided they would help out at that troublesome time of year for some people. It has been a tremendous asset—certainly the contribution from Rick Watt, the organizer, and a number of his committee members. To the past chairs over the years and certainly the outgoing chair, Mary Hanley, and the present incoming chair, Mark Rashotte, I wish them well in their work this year again.

There is the CNIB; Family Space; Safe Communities; and Gleaners Food Bank. That is an organization, locally, that has had a far-reaching effect across our entire riding, and there are the food banks across our country. I know they have served the school breakfast programs and have been helping families across our country, certainly in my riding, going through some challenging times.

There is the Habitat for Humanity, which in many cases provides the dignity of having a home that would not otherwise be available for people. There is the Children's Aid Society; the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit; the Heart and Stroke Foundation; the Multiple Sclerosis Society; and the number of children's day cares we have in our riding and the hundreds of volunteers who help out, helping the moms and pops feel more comfortable during their day at work, knowing their children are being looked after.

It is the Community Living and the Chamber of Commerce. I served as the president of a local Chamber of Commerce, and when I see the hundreds of members and hundreds of businesses that reach out, not only through the business itself but through their employees, as members of the Chamber of Commerce, I know they contribute tremendously to our area.

There is the Red Cross and the Sexual Assault Centre, and it is sad that we need that, but for those who have been victimized, what a wonderful resource it is, to be able to reach out and be assisted.

There is the Salvation Army, Sally Ann as most of us comfortably call it. When we see that kettle campaign every year, that is only the tip of the iceberg of all the wonderful work and volunteerism they do in our communities.

There is the Three Oaks shelter for abused women. Once again, it is unfortunate that in society we even need something like that, but it is a reality we have. When we have the people who help in those times of distress, it is tremendously encouraging.

We have the Trenton Military Family Resource Centre, and of course this has been more in vogue as we have had a number of repatriation ceremonies at Trenton, right next to me. I see the post-traumatic stress syndrome that is evident through a number of armed forces personnel. I am very pleased to see the volunteers there.

There is, of course, the United Way itself, which is really an umbrella financial organization that just absolutely makes it possible for a number of these groups to be able to participate. It raises a significant amount of funds. Those funds come through volunteers, companies, corporations and individuals.

There are the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Quinte Vocational Support Services, the Brain Injury Association, and Foundations itself, which is a group dedicated to assisting young people having challenges or looking for mentorship or fellowship. Some people classify it as a drop-in centre, but it does so much more. It provides a hot meal, a warm smile and a ready helping hand. There is the Diabetes Foundation and the various hospice organizations supported by many volunteers in all communities. At times of ultimate sadness, there are ways to reach out, help console and show the consideration necessary.

There is the Diabetes Foundation, as I mentioned before, and the Mental Health Support Network. In my area, there is the Quinte United Immigrant Services. It is a wonderful help not only to new Canadians who go there for advice and assistance but, as a member of Parliament who deals with a number of immigration cases, as do a number of my colleague, I find it a wonderful assistant to me in providing support, consideration and advice. There is Pathways to Independence. Having been a big brother myself over a number of years, I know Big Brothers Big Sisters reaches out and helps many people.

There are autism services and local hospital auxiliaries. I am sure many people go into hospitals and always find the auxiliary there to reach out, welcome, give directions and console at times of distress. There are, of course, all churches spread throughout the country. There are a significant number in my riding who are most active. They run many volunteer programs and are literally a cornerstone of our communities.

There are service clubs, such as the Legion, the Rotary, the Kiwanis, the Lions, the Women's Institute, the Kinsmen or the Elks. The list goes on. It is absolute volunteerism to the ultimate. There is Meals on Wheels for those who are not able to cook their own meals; they do not have the capacity, the commodities or the ability to do so. There are senior citizens clubs that reach out to people they know need help, guidance and assistance. There are Scouts Canada, the Girl Guides and the Humane Society. People question why I would include Humane Society. To many people who live alone or have an animal, that animal is a very precious being, so the Humane Society reaches out in a number of ways.

There are thousands of coaches, sponsors and volunteers in many sporting, cultural and artistic organizations throughout the ridings in our country. I know many of them. I have been a coach myself at the various levels, whether provincial, national or local. I see the countless hours put in on semi-pro teams and kids' teams or teachers putting in the dedicated commitment to many young people after hours. There are many more I could name, but I am obviously limited in my time here today in listing all the local contributors, let alone those who reach out both nationally and internationally.

We have to remember that it is our young people. They might not be able to donate money, but they represent an important demographic because they are future of philanthropy. Though they make up a small number, they of course will ensure the future sustainability of our voluntary sectors. We all recognize that seniors are the most active volunteers, but as they age, they will begin to reduce their volunteer participation.

Our government has numerous programs and projects that encourage youth in their philanthropic endeavours, because when people are inspired to take action, they can make an incredible impact not only in their communities but around the world. Whatever way it is manifested, philanthropy plays an important role in our country. It is at the heart of who we are as a nation; it is part of our identity; it is at the core of our values; and it is the spirit of giving of every type, from donating to volunteering. It defines our people and our country. Therefore, why do we need to legislate a national philanthropy day? As the Prime Minister has himself said, volunteers need to be acknowledged and honoured for their work. This day would be a day to do so.

I am happy to support this legislation highlighting the actions of so many generous Canadians across the country. I tip my hat and my hand today to all of those who contribute so much to making our country what it is.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, which comes to us from the upper chamber.

National Philanthropy Day was first celebrated on November 15, 1986. Canada was the first country to officially recognize this day in 2009, following a declaration by the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Since then, Parliament has tried six times to have November 15 officially declared National Philanthropy Day. However, none of those six attempts ever succeeded, because the bills all died on the order paper as a result of either prorogation or elections. I think it is safe to say that the seventh attempt will succeed and November 15 will be officially declared National Philanthropy Day in Canada.

It is important to note that, even though approximately 70% of Canadians made charitable donations in the past year, a national philanthropy day will increase public awareness of the importance of volunteer work and the donations that can be made to various community and non-profit organizations. Sometimes, even a $5 donation can make a difference at the end of the year; such donations add up.

I am confident that most Canadians also regularly participate in charitable activities. In Canada, 2 billion hours of volunteer work are done each year, which is equivalent to approximately 1 million full-time jobs. This shows that volunteer work is truly essential. A national philanthropy day is a very good way to thank these volunteers and organizations and to get the federal government to officially recognize, through legislation, the major impact that they have on our society. It is of the utmost importance to thank them.

It is important to set a aside a day to take the time to thank those who give of their time and money. Canada needs these people and these donations. Volunteers play an invaluable role in our everyday lives and enhance the wellness of our communities. They help the charitable sector to make a great contribution to the social and economic well-being of our communities across the country.

It is important to note that Canadians' generosity goes beyond our borders. We know that Canadians play a very active role internationally. Many Canadians go to other countries to help people on the ground, to stand up for a cause, to help build or renovate homes, or to provide help after a tragedy, and we know there are many tragedies. Outside the country, Canadians are known as people who do not hesitate to give many hours of their time without expecting anything in return. What is important for these people is the feeling of satisfaction gained from helping to make things better. It is really important not to underestimate the importance of volunteer work, particularly in the midst of an economic crisis, when social and economic needs are even greater than usual. We know that communities are experiencing increasingly hard times. This bill will recognize the importance of all the work that is being done.

It is also important to note that most Canadians said that, in 2012, they intended to donate $480 or more, which is a fairly substantial amount, to some philanthropic cause. It is thus very important not to lose these donations.

Obviously, designating this day will help encourage volunteering and giving. I think that is a realistic objective.

That is why we recognize the importance of this bill, which would permanently designate every November 15 as National Philanthropy Day, as declared by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

We support this initiative but want to point out that we must obviously do more to support volunteers and encourage philanthropy. The bill is not an end in itself.

With that in mind, the member for Repentigny introduced Bill C-399. I think that this bill is a good complement to the bill with respect to recognizing volunteer work.

My colleague's bill amends the Income Tax Act to grant a $500 to $1,500 tax credit in respect of travel expenses to individuals who perform a minimum of 130 hours of volunteer services and make at least 12 trips in order to do so during the taxation year.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

I think that the bill from the member for Repentigny is worthy of applause. Although he is not here right now, he knows that I strongly support his bill.

This bill would provide a tangible way to recognize that volunteers are pillars of civil society. I think that Bill C-399 and Bill S-201 are two good starts to recognize the work being done by our volunteers. Obviously, during times of fiscal restraint, Bill C-399 will also be necessary to support ongoing volunteering in the country.

A number of organizations in my riding could benefit from official recognition of their philanthropy and a tax credit for the volunteers who give of their time to help those in need.

I worked for a long time in community services. I often talk about it in the House because this is something that is very important to me. I assure the House that communities benefit a great deal from this giving of time and money.

I salute my former colleagues in the Saint-Hyacinthe community services sector. I stand here today on behalf of them. Without volunteering and donations from the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, my riding, a number of community organizations would unfortunately have to shut down, and it is the public that would ultimately suffer.

I am thinking in particular of Comptoir-Partage la mie, a food bank that serves the needy in Saint-Hyacinthe. This organization has a minuscule budget and not one employee. It is run entirely by volunteers. Without donations and volunteers, this organization could not provide food aid to the growing number of people in Saint-Hyacinthe who cannot make ends meet. That was highlighted last week by the Food Banks Canada report. That is the reality; people have do not have a choice.

I am also thinking of Parrainage civique--MRC d'Acton et des Maskoutains, an organization that matches volunteers with people with intellectual disabilities. The services provided by this organization are key to ensuring that people with an intellectual disability are appropriately integrated into the community. It is run almost entirely by volunteers. Without these volunteers, without access to these services, people with intellectual disabilities would have a great deal of difficulty or more obstacles in their lives.

The bill will highlight the work of volunteers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers and community organizations in my riding for their work.

In closing, I would like to raise a small concern about this bill. It is a fine proposal but, as I was saying, it is not an end in itself. Not only should we be acknowledging the work of volunteers by thanking them, but we must do more. We must remember that the government has a certain responsibility to help organizations that are helping the most disadvantaged. Furthermore, the government has a role to play when it comes to housing and the fight against poverty and homelessness, for example.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and speak to Bill S-201, which proposes making November 15 of every year National Philanthropy Day. Our debate today demonstrates our support for those Canadians who are currently striving to make Canada a better place. As our Governor General recently said, philanthropy creates a society, community and a country that can achieve much more than the sum of its parts.

Philanthropy is an act of citizenship that is an integral part of our Canadian society. Many important Canadian institutions and organizations were founded through philanthropic activity. People working together for a common good, whether through donating money or volunteering their labour, is a defining value of our country. Many organizations in my own riding promote and support the greater community. I will list just a couple to begin with.

The Children's Aid Society, whose board I was a proud member of for several years, protects the rights of and stands up for foster children who do not have any families. Young children are placed in foster homes and the board of the Children's Aid Society supports the workers who dedicate their time working with them, overseeing them and providing policy and direct support for many of these children who are in the most need in our society.

There programs support those who cannot get out and shop for themselves. For example, Meals on Wheels supports those people who cannot help themselves.

When I was an elementary school principal, there was a tremendous program started in my school by a teacher named Dorothy Alt, called the volunteer reading program. She was able to activate over 140 volunteers, many of them senior citizens, bringing them into the elementary school to work with our first-grade students, teaching them how to read. In this program, the volunteers would come in and be trained. They would spend hours and hours working with literacy professionals learning how to teach children how to read. This program produced some of the best literacy results in the country. Not long after it was implemented, our school was listed in the top 40 schools in the country by Today's Parent magazine, based primarily on the results of this literacy program, started by a wonderful teacher who dedicated her time and enlisted an army of volunteers in a small community.

There are stories like that taking place from coast to coast to coast. There is the in-from-the-cold program supporting homeless people. There are breakfast and lunch programs at our schools that support children who do not come to school having eaten a healthy meal. There are programs at hospitals across the country raising money for equipment, nurses auxiliaries and hospital auxiliaries. There are coaches who work with young men and women across the country providing hours and hours of volunteer time for the betterment and future of our country.

There are volunteer firefighters for whom our government recently was able to pass a bill providing them with a tax credit in their support across the country. My grandfather was a volunteer firefighter for over 40 years. He put in many hours protecting both lives and private property in his community. He thought that was a worthwhile experience. There is also the Terry Fox Run, which has raised millions of dollars across the country using volunteers from one coast to another, with corporations and individuals donating money every year to this program. Its leader never completed his journey but we are dedicated to completing it for him by solving cancer and finding a cure for that plague of these last two centuries.

All of these activities, these noble pursuits, could not take place without those who dedicate their time or money in giving of themselves to try to meet a need that exists in society. That is what this day is all about. That is what this bill is all about, Bill S-201, making November 15 every year National Philanthropy Day to celebrate those who give of their time and themselves.

We have many people working for a common good, but this is not limited to the volunteers and all of these organizations. We have examples, great people in our society who also give up their time.

It goes right to our head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. This year is only the second time in the history of our country when we have been able to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The first time was in 1897 for Queen Victoria. The second is this year, with our noble Queen, Elizabeth II.

Philanthropy and service go hand-in-hand and Her Majesty has dedicated her whole life to the service of others and this remains a remarkable example for the rest of us in Canada and throughout the Commonwealth. She champions public voluntary service around the world. Her Majesty is currently the patron of more than 600 charities worldwide and 33 are in Canada. These include the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Nurses Association. The sense of service has also been transferred to other members of the royal family.

The Queen and members of her family lend support to noteworthy Canadian causes such as environmental preservation, volunteerism and community service. They associate themselves with worthy causes and support organizations through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the Prince of Wales Charities in Canada and the Save the Children Fund. I, for one, am proud of the work that our royal family does in showing leadership to all of us of how to dedicate our time and money in the service of others.

Literally millions of Canadians follow this example and serve their communities in raising money for charities, donating their time and their hard-earned tax dollars for the good of others. In my riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley we are fortunate to have many people who give their time and effort for their community. I listed several organizations previously.

One recent project took place in Truro where we opened a new hospital last week. It was a $185 million project that was funded in part by the largest community fundraising effort in the history of my riding. The local community raised a total of $26 million toward this project. That amount totals to over $300 for every man, woman and child in the community. I wish to personally congratulate the chair, Chris MacDougall, and the other members of the to our health campaign for this outstanding effort in the support of our community. I would also like to congratulate all those who donated, the corporations, the individuals, the children who conducted penny parades and many other projects, toward building a hospital which is for the good of not only this generation, but many generations to come.

These projects happen across Canada each and every day. It is time that we set November 15 aside every year so we can celebrate those who give their time, those who give their money and those who take the time to work for these organizations to ask people to give money. We need to celebrate these people and support them. Without them, we would not have what I believe is the greatest nation in the world. It is because of this important role that volunteers, fundraisers, those who donate and others play in making our nation the best country that I support designating this day in honour of their generosity.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. She has just seven minutes.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed, but pleased nonetheless to rise in the House today to speak to Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day. The first National Philanthropy Day was celebrated on November 15, 1986, and in 2009, Canada was the first country to officially recognize this day.

The purpose of Bill S-201 is to make the 15th of November of each and every year National Philanthropy Day. Passing this bill would be one way for parliamentarians to recognize the crucial role that philanthropy plays as an important pillar for the welfare of our society. I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this bill.

I grew up in a family that understood the importance of community involvement and volunteerism. When I was a teenager, my parents, Christine and Alain, encouraged me to give my time to causes that were important to me. Thanks to them, I was able to see the value of volunteering a few hours a month for my community. I also learned about the benefits of volunteering by watching my parents, who have now been involved in Scouts Canada for almost 30 years. Over the years, they have helped over 100 young children enjoy wonderful experiences that they never would have had if it were not for volunteers like my parents.

The importance of volunteering and philanthropy for our society must not be underestimated, especially in the current context of economic austerity, in which the socio-economic needs of our communities are growing a little more each day and the services they have access to are becoming scarce. Volunteers who generously give their time, or Canadians who make charitable donations, actively contribute to the quality of life and vitality of our communities, and meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our society.

Officially recognizing November 15 as National Philanthropy Day will allow us to honour and thank the many volunteers who generously dedicate themselves to their communities, as well as the major donors and philanthropists from coast to coast to coast, and will encourage more and more people to follow their lead.

In my role as a member of Parliament, every day I see first-hand the extraordinary work that the volunteers in my riding, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, do on the ground, and I am sure that all hon. members have seen the same thing in their own ridings.

On October 26, I had the opportunity to attend the volunteer gala in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, just as I did last year. Like similar galas in many municipalities across the country, this event is organized every year by the mayor and city council to thank volunteers and recognize their tremendous service to the community. About 40 community, sports and cultural organizations were represented at the event on October 26, and many individuals were specifically honoured for the tremendous contribution they make as volunteers in the municipality of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures.

I was very pleased to see the number of people who are willing to volunteer their time, expecting nothing in return. They simply want to ensure that their community is a place where everyone can access services and enjoy a better quality of life. All of the volunteers at the gala contribute in their own way to the vitality and vivacity of their municipalities and provide essential services to their communities. These volunteers demonstrate remarkable generosity and dedication, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to pay tribute to them here today and to highlight the importance and value of their contributions to the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

Of course, I could say exactly the same thing about the volunteers in every municipality of the regions of Portneuf and Jacques-Cartier, but unfortunately, like everyone else, I do not have enough time here this morning. In fact, I have even less time left than I thought when I began speaking. I have enough time to say that one thing is clear for me today: selflessness and altruism are deeply ingrained in the hearts of the people of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. Creating a national philanthropy day would be a nice way to thank them and all other Canadians who donate their time or money in order to support the charitable organizations in their communities.

Although I am in favour of designating November 15 as National Philanthropy Day in Canada, I believe that much more needs to be done to support the country's volunteer and philanthropic movement. Bill S-201 is certainly a step in the right direction, but we can and should go even further to support our volunteers. Recent studies have shown that Canada's current economic situation is having a negative impact on charitable donations.

Despite the increased need for the services offered by charitable organizations, the number of people who are currently making donations has not increased, nor has the amount of money being donated across the country.

With regard to volunteer work, some witnesses who recently appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage said that many of the volunteers they know are no longer able to be involved because they do not have the financial resources to pay for the costs associated with their volunteer work, for example, transportation and parking costs. Every day, we talk to different people who work in non-profit organizations in our communities, and they say that there is a desperate need for money for their general operating budgets, as well as for resources to provide direct assistance to people who decide to get involved in their organizations.

As parliamentarians, we have the responsibility to implement measures to support the volunteer sector, while encouraging others to do the same. As a number of my colleagues have already mentioned, that is why the hon. member for Repentigny introduced Bill C-399 to amend the Income Tax Act in order to provide a tax credit to individuals who perform a minimum of 130 hours of volunteer service in their community and make at least 12 trips in order to do so during the taxation year.

This is one way to encourage and recognize volunteer work. I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to my colleague for his initiative, and I hope that members of all parties will support this bill, which is not at all partisan and would help Canadians in each of their ridings across the country.

In the meantime, since Bill S-201 is filled with good intentions and seeks to celebrate philanthropy and volunteer work in our communities, I will be very pleased to vote in favour of it.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the House and all the members who have spoken to the bill and indicated their support for it.

The bill having reached this stage is a tribute to Senator Terry Mercer from the other place. He has made numerous attempts to get this legislation passed. I know he would want me to thank the House and all members for their support.

Volunteer groups across Canada would appreciate this recognition, as would people who are donors. The bill is all about donors and volunteers across Canada, those millions of folks whom make Canada the most caring country in the world.

I hope every Canadian has had the benefit at some stage in their lives of the help of a volunteer, have had the benefit of their work, whether it is a hockey coach, a basketball or soccer coach who has made a difference in their lives, or a scout or girl guide leader who have taught many life lessons or a food bank volunteers who have helped provide the necessities of life.

The bill, as my last colleague to speak said, is a very non-partisan bill and it shows how we can all work together. I am confident we will all work together in the end and pass the bill. I hope we can work together in making the spirit of the bill felt across Canada as well.

It is encouraging that the bill, it appears, will pass before November 15, which is National Philanthropy Day, and that will be welcomed by the legions of volunteers across Canada.

I was a bit baffled last week, in view of the support from all parties for the substance of the bill, when I asked for unanimous consent to have it passed at third reading and an NDP colleague, perhaps acting on orders from on high in the party, refused consent for that to happen.

I will try again in a minute and perhaps members will see their way to support that measure. If not, I know the bill will pass and I know I will still have their support for the substance of the bill. I do not really see what the partisan advantage, or any advantage, a party gets from not giving consent to that at this stage, but those are the games perhaps that get played around this place.

I would be remiss if I did not express my appreciation to my Liberal colleague, the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, who was kind enough to make the switch that allowed the bill to come back so soon and have a chance of passing before November 15, National Philanthropy Day.

I am proud to have been the sponsor the bill in the House. I am pleased for Senator Mercer and countless others from both houses who have really tried to push the bill along and allowed us to be about to declare that November 15 every year will be National Philanthropy Day, an important day for us to mark.

Before I finish, I would like to see consent for the following motion: That, at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, all questions necessary to dispose of the bill be deemed put and that the bill be read a third time and now pass.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Does the member have unanimous consent for this motion?

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members



National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business



Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. I was watching the government benches and I heard everyone from the government side say “yes”. Members in the Liberal caucus did say “yes”. I do not know where the “no” came from. Mr. Speaker, could you provide clarification?

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

That is not a point of order. In fact, the member is asking me to review my decision. I heard “no”. There was no unanimous consent. However, the time provided for the debate has now expired.

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

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business


Some hon. members


National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business



The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

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

The House resumed from October 15 consideration of the motion that Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders



Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to stand in support of the bill and to start today's discussion of Bill S-9.

I will be splitting my time with the fantastic member of Parliament from Nanaimo—Cowichan. Notwithstanding the fact that I was instructed to use those precise terms, I happily stand by them.

We are back to amending the Criminal Code but this time for a good cause. Bill S-9, the nuclear terrorism act, would amend the Criminal Code in order to implement the criminal law requirements of two international counterterrorism treaties, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, as amended in 2005, and the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

The nuclear terrorism act introduces four new indictable offences into part 2 of the Criminal Code, making it illegal to possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations, with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment; to use or alter nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operation, with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing anything; to commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device, or access or control of a nuclear facility; and to threaten or commit to do any of the above.

In addition, the bill introduces into the code other amendments that are incidental to these four offences but are nonetheless important. It introduces a new section into the code to ensure individuals who, when outside of Canada, commit or attempt to commit these offences may be prosecuted in Canada. It amends the wiretap provisions found in the code to ensure that they apply to the new offences. It also amends the code to make four new offences primary designated offences for the purposes of DNA warrants and collection orders.

Finally, it amends the double jeopardy rule in Canada such that, notwithstanding the fact that a person may have been previously tried and convicted for these new offences outside Canada, the rule against double jeopardy would not apply when the foreign trial did not meet certain basic Canadian legal standards. In that case, a Canadian court may try the person again for the same offence of which he or she was convicted by a foreign court.

For a long time now, but particularly in the post-cold war era, it has been well understood that with the proliferation of nuclear weaponry and nuclear power generation around the world, a new and heightened regime of nuclear safety and security must be developed. A scenario in which nuclear weapons or materials fall into the hands of terrorists has prompted many to focus on the development of such a regime or framework. It is clearly understood that such a regime must be international in scope and must be grounded in the deep and good faith co-operation of states around the world. That regime needs to be put in place with considerable urgency.

This understanding forms the basis of the two aforementioned conventions that await Canada's ratification. The first of these, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, dates back to 1980. Its importance is signified by the fact that it stands, still, as the only internationally legally binding undertaking in the protection of nuclear material.

In July of 2005, a diplomatic conference was convened to strengthen the provisions of the convention by doing a number of things, including expanding international co-operation between and among states with respect to rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences, such as sabotage, and prevent and combat related offences.

With respect to the other convention, in 1996 an ad hoc committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations was mandated by the General Assembly to develop an international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings, and subsequent to that, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. This later convention was adopted by the General Assembly in April 2005. This convention on nuclear terrorism imposes an obligation on state parties to render the offences set out in the convention as criminal offences under national laws and to establish jurisdiction, both territorial and extraterritorial, over the offences set out in the convention.

Both of these conventions await ratification by Canada, which is first dependent on the codification of the offence provisions of these conventions into Canadian criminal law.

We on this side of the House recognize the need and urgency to put in place a regime to counter nuclear terrorism. Moreover, New Democrats are committed to multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas of great common concern such as nuclear terrorism. Thus, we need to work with other leading countries that are moving forward toward ratifying these conventions.

We also believe that since Canada has agreed to be legally bound by these conventions, it is important to fulfill our international obligations. For these reasons we will vote in favour of the bill at second reading in order to further study it at committee. However, a few concerns need to be set out first.

The first has to do with the origin of the bill. I would urge those who embrace the anachronistic and undemocratic institution of the Senate on the grounds of tradition to employ the Senate in the traditional way, that being as the chamber of sober second thought and not as the place of origin of legislation. It is for those of us in the chamber who, for better or worse, were sent here by Canadians to do that work.

Second, as with so much legislation that the government puts forward through whichever chamber, we must be careful that we do not overreach in the name of anti-terrorism. On this point, our experiences with the Liberals' Anti-terrorism Act and the government's recent Bill S-7 are instructive. The provisions of that act and that bill run contrary to the fundamental principles, rights and liberties enshrined in Canadian law.

Moreover, perhaps more importantly, we have found that without such extreme provisions, without changing the legal landscape of Canada, without breaching the rights and civil liberties of Canadian citizens, we have successfully protected the safety and security of Canada and Canadians from terrorist attack and that the offending provisions have proven over the course of time to constitute an unnecessary, ineffective infringement.

I would note that this issue arose in the course of the bill's study in the Senate. No doubt the intention of the drafters at the Department of Justice was to adhere as closely as possible to the terms of the convention. However, it has been suggested that some of the new Criminal Code offences are broader in scope than the offences found in the individual international agreements. We must be sure that the overreach of these new sections will not result in undue criminalization or go against the Canadian Charter of Rights.

I anticipate that the justice committee will play a very valuable role in ensuring that the lessons of previous anti-terrorism legislation are applied to Bill S-9.

Last, I come to what I believe is a very important point in this discussion, that being the matter of delay. The implementation of the bill or some amended version thereof is a prerequisite for the ratification of both international conventions. Both of these conventions set out in their respective preambles the urgency with which the international community must act to implement a regime to control nuclear weapons and materials and to ensure they are not accessible for terrorist purposes.

For example, the preamble to the convention on nuclear terrorism talks about the deep concern of the parties to this convention of the worldwide escalation of acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and that acts of nuclear terrorism may result in the gravest consequences and may pose a threat to international peace and security. It also notes that existing multilateral legal provisions do not adequately address those attacks and that the “urgent need to enhance international cooperation between States” for these purposes needs to be moved forward.

Therefore, the question sitting out there is this. Why has it taken the legislation so long to get to the House for debate when both conventions have been open for ratification since 2005?

While there are other laggards in the international community, it is our expectation that Canada show leadership on issues such as these.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague and was especially interested in terms of the larger picture. Certainly we need to deal with the offences when someone is trying to deal in nuclear materials and the whole issue of nuclear terrorism. However, we see such a proliferation of arms already around the world that we need to have a proactive instead of a reactive response on the issue of nuclear proliferation. Reactive is just not good enough, no matter how many bills and legislation we bring forward. We are dealing with many countries, some of whom are unstable, that have used nuclear weapons or have access to nuclear waste or nuclear materials.

I ask my hon. colleague this. What does he think in terms of the big picture with respect to Canada playing a proactive role internationally to reduce access to nuclear weapons in every single country?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House have noted that Canada is falling behind both in its international reputation and participation in multilateral efforts to curb the proliferation of weapons. It is happening at a time of tremendous importance for countries like Canada to do the opposite and show international leadership on these matters. There are states around the world that are failing. Many of these states have a great deal of weaponry and those weapons are falling into the hands of people who should not have weapons. That is great cause for concern for the safety and security of folks around the world, including Canadians.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Beaches—East York mentioned a number of important points. In one part of his speech, he focused on something puzzling. In fact, the term “urgent” is used several times in these conventions. Yet, we have been waiting since 2005 for a bill to be introduced that really deals with this problem and that amends the Criminal Code, so that Canada can ratify these conventions.

One of the arguments trotted out by the Parliamentary Secretary when the bill was first introduced was that, at the time, there was a minority government in power.

To my knowledge, all members of the House agree with the general principle of this bill. Therefore, I will ask my colleague to speculate about why the government, which has been in power since February 2006, did not move more quickly on this bill.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, my response is a bit of a continuation of the response I gave to the last question in that what is happening is that Canada is failing to take its full place in the international community and show leadership on such issues. It seems to me that it was the urging of the international community at both the Washington nuclear security summit in 2010 and the Seoul nuclear security summit in 2012 that seems to have prompted the government to finally take action and put together a bill that would see the criminal codification of offences under those respective conventions put into place in Canada. It is interesting to read the Seoul communiqué that came out of the summit in 2012 and the very stark terms it spoke about of the urgency for countries around the world to ratify these agreements.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the very hard-working member for Beaches—East York for sharing his time with me. He has done a tremendous amount of work in the House around the F-35 file and his speech today reflects his commitment to looking at some of these matters.

I also want to acknowledge the member for Gatineau and the member for Toronto—Danforth who spoke previously and very ably outlined some of the technical aspects of the bill. I will read from the legislative summary so that people who are watching are clear about the bill we are speaking about. It reads:

Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (short title: Nuclear Terrorism Act), is a 10-clause bill that introduces four new indictable offences into Part II of the Criminal Code, which deals with offences against public order. Adding these new offences, with respect to certain activities in relation to nuclear or radioactive material, nuclear or radioactive devices or nuclear facilities makes it illegal to

possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations, with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment;

use or alter nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operation, with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing anything;

commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device, or access or control of a nuclear facility; and

threaten to commit any of the other three offences.

The bill would fulfill Canada's treaty obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, also known as CPPNM, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, ICSANT. This includes extending international measures beyond protecting against proliferation of nuclear materials to now include protection of nuclear facilities and it reinforces Canada's obligation under UN Security Council Resolution 1540 from 2004 to take and enforce effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials as well as chemical and biological weapons.

In a case where the implementation of a treaty requires amendment to Canadian legislation, the treaty is ratified only when such amendments or new legislation has been passed. As the member for Beaches—East York very ably pointed out, Canada has not ratified even though it has signed on and it has been five years. The question is why the government did not take steps before. I know the parliamentary secretary mentioned in his speech that it was because of a minority Parliament, but there is broad agreement in the House about the need to ratify this treaty and for Canada to fulfill both its domestic and international obligations.

To date, Canada has not ratified either the ICSANT or the CPPNM amendment. This is because Canada does not yet have legislation in place to criminalize the offences outlined in the ICSANT or some of the offences outlined in the CPPNM amendment. The amendments Bill S-9 introduces into the Criminal Code represents Canada's efforts to align its domestic legislation with what is required by both conventions. If these amendments become law, Canada will presumably be in a position to ratify both the ICSANT and the CPPNM amendment. One would hope that Canada would move expeditiously to do that once this law has passed through both Houses.

I will quote from a handbook for parliamentarians supporting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament because the bill has a larger context. It is important to note the larger context and why it is important for Canada to move ahead and ratify these treaties. This handbook was just released at the interparliamentary union last week in Quebec City. There was an address from the United Nations Secretary-General, a message dated July 2012, that was at the outset of this book. It reads:

The rule of law is coming to nuclear disarmament, and parliamentarians have important contributions to make in advancing this historic process.

Inspired or assisted by the efforts of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, parliaments are showing an increased interest in promoting nuclear disarmament. This should come as no surprise. Parliaments represent the people, and across the world today we are seeing a groundswell of opinion among diverse sectors of civil society--doctors, lawyers, religious leaders, mayors, human rights activists, women’s groups, environmentalists, economists and educators in countless fields--demanding concrete steps to control and eliminate these deadly, costly, wasteful weapons.

The core role of parliaments in ratifying treaties and adopting implementing legislation gives them tremendous potential to extend the rule of law even more deeply into the domain of disarmament.

This is part of what Canada can do in terms of fulfilling some of those international obligations. There is an important context, though, for this, and again in the Supporting Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament handbook, they quote from the 7th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates who concluded that:

The failure to address the nuclear threat and to strengthen existing treaty obligations to work for nuclear weapons abolition shreds the fabric of cooperative security. A world with nuclear haves and have-nots is fragmented and unstable, a fact underscored by the current threats of proliferation. In such an environment cooperation fails. Thus, nations are unable to address effectively the real threats of poverty, environmental degradation and nuclear catastrophe.

They go on to talk about the economic dimensions. I think this is also an important note about why it is so important for Canada to move forward. It goes on to state:

In December 2010, Global Zero released an analysis indicating that approximately US $100 billion per year was being spent globally on nuclear weapons, with almost 50 per cent of that being spent in the United States alone. In comparison, the biennial United Nations budget for 2012/2013 is US $5.1 billion, or 5 per cent of the yearly global nuclear weapons budget. The costs of meeting the Millennium Development Goals--of basic education, primary health care, minimum food, clean water, and environmental protection (including climate change prevention and alleviation)--are estimated at US $120 billion per year, just slightly more than the nuclear weapons budget.

We can imagine what a different world we could live in if all the money that was being spent on nuclear weapons was actually being spent on health care, education, poverty reduction measures and climate change.

The handbook goes on to say:

Allocating such massive budgets to weapons systems designed in the hope they will never be used not only steals economic resources from other vital programmes, it also drains the social capital required to stimulate economies. Dollar for dollar, investing in nuclear weapons creates far fewer jobs than virtually any other industry; nuclear weapon systems are high-tech and have virtually no economic flow-on to other industries or other economic activities. In addition, the intellectual activity devoted to modernizing and developing nuclear weapon systems steals such intellect from areas of social and economic need. The nuclear-weapon corporations might get richer, but everyone else gets poorer.

In the same handbook, it reads:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a letter addressed to all parliaments in February 2010, noted that:

“At a time when the international community is facing unprecedented global challenges, parliamentarians can take on leading roles in ensuring sustainable global security, while reducing the diversion of precious resources from human needs. As parliaments set the fiscal priorities for their respective countries, they can determine how much to invest in the pursuit of peace and cooperative security.”

I have a quote that reads:

Dwight D. Eisenhower, from a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors,16 April 1953:

It is “The opportunity-cost of militarism....”

I think it is timely for us to remind ourselves of that in the context of this debate today. Mr. Eisenhower went on to say:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

The New Democrats are supporting getting this bill to committee for study because it is a very technical bill. There was one clause that needed to be amended at the Senate. We want to ensure that the bill reflects Canada's obligation under these international conventions.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for Nanaimo—Cowichan for her speech. The Anti-Personnel Mines Convention is from another era, an era when Canada was a leader on the issue. We are now living with the shame of being a follower and having to make up for lost time. Fortunately, we are now taking action.

After listening to my colleague's speech, I have the following question. Does she believe that simple amendments to the Criminal Code and the government's measures are enough to ensure compliance with the terms of the convention? Changes to the Criminal Code can be useful, but they must be accompanied by precautionary measures and we must take concrete measures internationally that go beyond mere amendments to the text.